British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed Bangladesh-born British MP Rushanara Ali as ‘trade envoy’ for Bangladesh.
The appointment underlines the importance the UK attaches to its trade and investment partnership with Bangladesh, the British High Commission in Dhaka says.
Ali is the Labour Party MP for the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow.
She was the first person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to British Parliament.
In her parliamentary career, she has been Shadow Minister for Education and International Development and a member of the Parliamentary Treasury Select Committee.
She currently serves as a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Energy and Climate Change.
“I am delighted to have been appointed to this cross-party role as the UK Trade Envoy to Bangladesh,” she said on her appointment.
The cross-party Trade Envoy programme was established in 2012 to build bilateral trade relationships and help drive economic growth in countries identified as key markets for the UK.
They are unpaid positions. There are currently 24 Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum working as Trade Envoys covering over 50 different markets.
All Trade Envoys are personally selected by the Prime Minister for their experience, skills and knowledge of particular sectors and countries.
This is part of a new whole-of-government approach to boosting trade with priority markets and sectors.
The UK is the largest investor in Bangladesh and has “a deep and longstanding relationship” with the country.
Ali will play “a pivotal role” in building on these ties to raise awareness of business and investment opportunities, and further enhance the collaboration between British and Bangladeshi companies.
She will also use her experience of the market to help address climate change concerns and share the UK’s expertise on labour standards to support Bangladesh’s garments industry.
“The UK and Bangladesh have historic and long-standing ties. Bangladesh has been identified by UKTI as an emerging market with substantial trade and investment opportunities,” Ali was quoted as saying in a statement.
“It is a country of particular importance to me: a third of my constituents have Bangladeshi heritage and I was the first person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to the UK Parliament.
“I want to see Britain play a twin role helping Bangladesh thrive economically and supporting the country’s efforts to tackle the threat of climate change,” she said.
The British High Commission says the UK has “strong business interests” in Bangladesh and remains its largest foreign investor. The two-way trade between the UK and Bangladesh stands at £2.3 million now.
Over 100 British companies are operating in sectors including retail, banking, energy, infrastructure, consultancy and education with main centres of operation in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
The UK is also the third single largest destination for exports from Bangladesh.
On hearing of the announcement British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake said she was “delighted” that at the start of the new Bengali year, the prime minister had appointed Ali to this position.
“Bangladesh’s economy is growing impressively and there are exciting opportunities here for British companies. Our companies have world class export potential and Ms Ali will be an excellent champion for British business in Bangladesh,” she said.
“I and my team are looking forward to working with Ms Ali to further strengthen the long and friendly relationship between the UK and Bangladesh,” the high commissioner added.